09/03/2004 12:00AM

Best on Tap one tough sprinter

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AUBURN, Wash. - Best on Tap returns to his best game on Sunday when he takes on six other sprinters in the featured race at Emerald Downs, a 6 1/2-furlong test for $40,000 optional claiming company.

Best on Tap, a 4-year-old son of Signal Tap from the barn of trainer Doug Driever, established himself as one of the top sprinters on the grounds by running second to Willie the Cat in the six-furlong Seattle Handicap and second to Salt Grinder in the 6 1/2-furlong Governor's Handicap. Sandwiched between those stakes placings were a pair of extremely fast wins over $25,000 optional claimers. In the first of those scores, Best on Tap sped 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:13.60 to set a track record.

Driever entered Best on Tap in the Grade 3 Longacres Mile in his last start on Aug. 20, and he tired after showing brief speed and finished 10th of 12. The return to 6 1/2 furlongs, plus the considerable class drop, should serve as a tonic for Best on Tap on Sunday.

Best on Tap figures to get his sternest opposition from Slewicide Cruise, who comes out of a narrow miss in the five-furlong Owners' Handicap on Longacres Mile Day. In that unique event, in which horses carry only the weights of their riders, Slewicide Cruise came from far back to miss catching Prize Weaver by a neck.

Slewicide Cruise, a 4-year-old trained by Robbie Baze, won a $25,000 optional claiming event at 5 1/2 furlongs earlier in the meet and also ran second to Willie the Cat in the Fox Sports Net.